Blaine Pedersen isn’t a big AgriStability supporter.
Neither are most farmers, but while many farm groups have been pushing to fix the farm support program, Manitoba’s minister of agriculture and resource development has been exploring four alternatives, including a margin-based insurance program that might be able to replace AgriStability, also a margin-based program.
Canada’s agriculture ministers are to get a report on this margin-based plan when they meet in July, Pedersen told reporters Dec. 1.
“It’s an insurance premium on income very generally,” he said. “Again, I don’t have specifics for you. That’s what we want to bring forward. Is it viable? We don’t have those actuarial numbers for it yet.
“Let’s look at this. Is this something that will provide bankability, timeliness and yet be affordable for both producers and for government?”
About 20 Manitoba farm commodity groups attended an online session last month to learn more about the proposals, Pedersen said.
“Commodity groups are willing to look at alternatives,” he said. They’re not dismissing it. They’re not saying, ‘no, it’s either AgriStability or nothing.’ They’re willing to look at it because everybody realizes the shortfalls of AgriStability. Maybe that’s where we’ll end up anyway, but let’s look at the alternatives.”
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) president Bill Campbell was one of the participants. A ‘straw poll’ showed about half of attendees wanted more information. Campbell said he was one of them.
“Yeah, everybody is looking for something better than what’s there, but sometimes what you have is better,” he said. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So maybe fix what we’ve got.
“Before I can make an educated decision I need more details.”